BOSTON -- Mayor Raymond Flynn, angered by a recent bench-clearing hockey brawl at Boston Garden, sent a letter Thursday to the city's pro sports teams to 'put them on notice' that violence will not be tolerated.
Flynn said he would seek arrests if his letter is not heeded. The letter warned against repeat performances of the bloody Nov. 20 brawl between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
'The letter will put them on notice that conduct like we saw in that game will not be tolerated,' Flynn told UPI in an interview Wednesday.
'I'd like first to have the sports teams get themselves in order,' the mayor said. 'If that kind of ugly scene took place again - and if I saw that the ownership of the team would not take any action - I would seek arrests.'
The mayor acknowledged, however, he was not certain 'what our jurisdiction is' regarding the arrests of athletes at professional sports contests.
A Bruins spokesman said any response to Flynn's remarks would have to come from Paul Mooney, president of both the team and Garden, who was out of town. An NHL spokesman in Montreal said league President John Ziegler and Executive Vice President Brian O'Neill were also out of town Thursday.
'If this kind of activity was going on at the opera, there would be outrage, and rightly so,' said Flynn.
Flynn, a former All-America basketball player at Providence College, stunned a Northeastern University sports journalism dinner Dec. 4 when he said he would have ordered arrests if he had been at the Nov. 20 Bruins-Canadiens game.
'I would have instructed my police commissioner to go on the ice with the police department and have the Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens taken off the ice and handcuffed and arrested,' he told the dinner guests.
That game resulted in 114 minutes in penalties and the two teams were fined a total of $14,000.
Flynn said team owners, and not the players, are the ones mostly responsible for ending violence in professional sports.
'I don't think this is what these young athletes worked hard to do,' Flynn said. 'These are decent kids. They are not animals. They do not want to hurt someone.'
But he said an athlete's behavior can change 'if they feel violence is not only overlooked, but encouraged ... if they feel that's how they'd ingratiate themselves with their employers.'